Simon succeeds at Oral Roberts

Published 7:03 pm Tuesday, February 2, 2021

By Barbara Boxleitner

College sprinter Devin Simon recently was named to a preseason watch list for indoor track and field.

Although the Summit League press release cited the Smithfield High School graduate on its watch list, the Oral Roberts University graduate student has exhausted his indoor eligibility.

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“I can’t even run indoor,” said Simon, the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association men’s track athlete of the year in 2018 as a member of the Virginia Union University team. “It (preseason nod) is special, though.”

The son of Dawn and Rodney Simon fulfilled his indoor eligibility last year for Oral Roberts after previously competing two years for Virginia Union, where he enrolled in fall 2015.

“Due to NCAA rules, you are only allowed five years from your enrollment date to complete your four years of collegiate eligibility,” according to Jon Opiela, Oral Roberts assistant director of athletic communications.

Simon will be practicing for the outdoor season when the indoor season is going on, hoping to capitalize on his success last year. “He’s got a shot to have a really good year,” Oral Roberts head track and field coach Joe Dial said.

“He’s a really hard worker,” he said. “He’s a real polite kid. He’s a good team leader.”

Simon was named the Most Valuable Player at the 2020 Summit League indoor championship, where he finished as champion in the 400-meter run and in the 4-by-400 relay. He was third in the 200 final after being first in the preliminary and was named to the all-league team.

“It was a lot of hard work,” said Simon, who received a plaque for the MVP honor. “They (coaches) pushed me to get to where I was.”

He said his favorite individual event is the 200, which he won in a field of 46 at a January 2020 meet. He won the 400 and placed second in it during meets before the indoor championship.

“My start isn’t really the best. When I get started running, it’s hard to beat me,” he said. “I’m better in the middle of the race.”

He posted career times after working to correct his stride.

“He has a real quick turnover. He was running up, like too much on his toes. His stride pattern was really short,” Dial said. “You need to lengthen your stride out. That kind of slowed his turnover down, but he was actually covering more ground.”

As a member of the relay team, Simon has been in different legs. “My favorite spot is first.  I can get the lead,” he said. “I can control the race.”

His versatility is an asset, enabling Dial to change runners’ positions depending on the situation.

“In a real important meet, having him lead off is really important because you need to get the lead. He’s got a lot of natural speed,” the coach said. “It’s hard for anyone to pass him. By the time he heads off, we’ve got the lead.”

But Simon is effective at closing on opponents if the relay is trailing, so he thrives in the other positions too. He was in the third spot when the foursome won the indoor championship title. “He really finishes good,” Dial said.


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